Category Archives: Game Reviews

Columbus 1-Real Salt lake 4

RSL took it to a banged up and shorthanded Columbus squad last night, mostly behind F Robbie Findley’s hat trick (the first in RSL history).  Both teams were missing some internationals, but the weather, fatigue, and lingerging injuries (M Robbie Rogers, F Guillermo Barros Schelotto) did the defending champs in.  Crew fans should find some consolation in the team’s first two performances; the team on the field at the Rio Tinto was vastly different from the one that threw away a win against TFC in Columbus.  The Crew’s defense looked sluggish and RSL’s athletic forwards, Findley and Yura Movsisyan were able to take advantage of that.  The disconnect between Schelotto, Rogers, and F Jason Garey further propounded Columbus’s problems, as they were unable to create anything in the box.  It’s clear that the Crew missed Hejduk, Moreno, and a healthy Rogers.  On a night when even Chad Marshall looked suspect, the Crew were never going to come away victorious.

Crew Player Ratings:

GK Will Hesmer 5: The first two goals were entirely Hesmer’s fault.  He wasn’t able to hang onto a free kick and his poor kicking continues to haunt the Crew after kicking one right to Robbie Findley, giving him an easy 1-on-1

D Gino Padula 7: Padula continues to look more and more comfortable in MLS.  His offensive support is minimal, but he is solid at the back and last night’s effort was no different.

D Danny O’Rourke 5: Often tries to rely on his pace to beat forwards one-on-one, but showed once again that he doesn’t have the ability to outfox more athletic attackers.  Looked overmatched all night.

D Chad Marshall 6.5: Made several important tackles, but also had a few slip-ups.  Never made any impact on the Crew’s numerous set pieces.

D Jed Zayner 6: Another marginal performance from a marginal player.  I’m surprised RSL didn’t attack him more, he never does anything too spectacular at the back, but he did what he had to do.  Doesn’t add anything to the attack from the fullback position because his delivery into the box in marginal.

M Brian Carroll 6.5: Was able to keep RSL’s playmaking M Javier Morales out of the game.  On the other hand, he looked downright uncomfortable with the ball at his feet.

M Robbie Rogers 5.5: Did not contribute much.  It’s clear that his injury is still bothering him.  He didn’t look confident on the ball and his delivery was poor.

M Emmanuel Ekpo 6: Had a few positive plays on offense, but looked overmatched by RSL’s physical defense.  Doesn’t often get a chance to use his pace in the middle of the field, and his one-on-one efforts are nullified by being surrounded by defenders.

M Eddie Gaven 6: Was one of the lone bright spots on offense for the Crew.  Made good runs and used his speed, but was single-handedly responsible for an RSL goal when he whiffed on a corner.

F Guillermo Barros Schelotto 6: Kept at bay by RSL.  Made some good passes, as well as some foolish ones.  Probably hampered by the injury he picked up last week.

F Jason Garey 6.5: Notched the lone Crew goal and worked hard all night.  Couldn’t capitalize on a few chances.

Subs

F Alejandro Moreno 5.5: Clearly tired from traveling 12,000 miles.  Had little impact.

F Steven Lenhart 5: Continues to be unimpressive.  Made from the hard-working Moreno mold with less strength and skill.

CONCACAF Champions League Recap 9/3

New England 0-Joe Public 4 (Joe Public win 6-1 on aggregate)

The Revs got humiliated in Foxboro at the hands of the Trinidad and Tobago club.  Devastated by injuries up front and fatigue at the back, New England but on a good display of the lack of depth that MLS clubs are restricted to due to the salary cap.  But that’s really no excuse when you consider Joe Public FC’s funding and newness; aside from injuries, the Revolution have to admit that they just played poorly.  Maybe an MLS team ought to look at Guyana International strker Gregory Richardson.  The 26 year-old scored an away hat trick to lead the way for the Lions.

Chivas USA 1-Tauro FC 1 (Tauro win 3-1 on aggregate)

Chivas’ effort should probably be celebrated as a little stronger than New England’s, but they had more ground to make up, and eventually missed opportunities caught up to them.  Roberto Nurse scored early for the Goats, and plenty of near misses, including a missed penalty by Sacha Kljestan.  In the 51st minute, Jonathan Bornstein’s second yellow signaled a drop to 10 men for Chivas, which would lead to a goal from Tauro’s Luis Moreno 12 minutes later, putting Tauro up 3-1 on aggregate- enough to advance.

World Cup Qualifier: USA 1-Guatemala 0

It should have been the kind of match that makes international football great: an exotic locale, a raucous venue, an inspired underdog, and the World Cup barely visible in the distance on the CONCACAF landscape.  Instead, violent play from both sides, though most notably from Guatemala, tainted an otherwise sloppy, but exciting contest.

The United States recorded their first World Cup Qualifying victory in Guatemala on the backs of a 69th minute Carlos Bocanegra header.  Bocanegra guided in a corner kick from DaMarcus Beasley to give the United States the lead just minutes after both a Steve Cherundolo red card (second yellow) and a straight red to Guatemala D Gustavo Cabrera for a vicious diving elbow to the head of Eddie Lewis.  Although Guatemala would pressure American keeper Tim Howard the rest of the match, the USA managed to hang on for the first-leg victory.  The American players looked impacted by the hostile environment and jetlag from their international travels, often displaying poor touch and questionable passing (even stellar Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard’s kicking was off).  Furthermore, the lack of a quality attacking option remains blatant.  Brian Ching holds up play well and is decent in the air, but Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey provided few threats to the Guatemala goal.

Overshadowing the actual soccer was the shamefully dirty play.  While most of the late shoving and desperate atttempts from the US were retaliatory, Guatemala did whatever they could to intimidate or flatout injure the American players.  Cabrera’s flying elbow was simply the nadir of a display that included Carlos Ruiz kicking Tim Howard in the head, plenty of body checks and takedowns, a Guatemalan defender kicking at Carlos Bocanegra during his goal celebration and defender Yony Flores attempting to attack a US coach after the match.

Though I had heard about the hostility of Central American opponents, I had never seen the United States in a football streetfight until their match with Guatemala.  Poor CONCACAF officiating only compounded the needless aggression that Guatemala apparently felt they needed to utilize in order to have a chance against one of the federation’s juggernauts.  While I had been thinking about how weak qualifying competition gave the United States a disadvantage once they reached large tournaments like the World Cup and Olympics, I now know that at the very least, the Red, White, and Blue are mentally prepared to take on all comers.

Columbus Crew 2-FC Dallas 1

Crew Get Goals From Unlikely Scorers

As is becoming the norm for them, the Crew got off to a bit of a sluggish start, with few chances early in the game. Eddie Gaven had a couple of good looks, but failed to make Dallas keeper Dario Sala work much on either. In the 35th minute, ex-Crew forward and recent Dallas acquisition Jeff Cunningham finally notched his 100th career goal after being denied a few times by great efforts from Crew keeper Will Hesmer.

Cunningham’s goal failed to energize the Crew, but Sigi Schmidt’s halftime talk must have done the trick, as Noonan (and later Rogers in his place), Barros Schelotto, Moreno, and Evans combined to create a few chances before defensive midfielder Brian Carroll scored his first goal of the season off of a Guillermo Barros Schelotto pass. 3 minutes later, Evans gave the Crew a lead that they would not relinquish off a flick from Barros Schelotto’s cross into the box.

The season-high announced attendance (tickets sold, not tickets taken) of 17,647 was a great cap on the evening, and the Nordecke seemed much more persistent than usual.

Player Ratings

GK Will Hesmer- Confident and steady. Came off his line well, was sure-handed, made few mistakes and his kicking was good, even great at times. Aside from a few Cunningham threats, Dallas didn’t give him much serious work to do, but he still played very well. (8)

LB Gino Padula- Looked rusty after being out for a few months. Got burned on the wing a few times (probably due to his lack of game fitness), didn’t look very sure in the tackle, and didn’t contribute much on offense. Still, he was aggressive and usually well-positioned, and his passing and offensive confidence really improved in the second half. (6)

CB Danny O’Rourke- Was presumably in the spot to keep tabs on the speedy Jeff Cunningham, but if the amount of chances Cunningham had are any indication, he didn’t do a very good job. O’Rourke made a few key stops, but he also seemed too timid at times and got burned by Cunningham more than once. (6)

CB Chad Marshall- The usually solid Marshall got outworked on Dallas’ lone goal, but he was a rock the rest of the game, coming up with several key tackles, and playing aggressively. It would be nice if he had a little more pace, as a few offensive surges ended when he couldn’t track down short Dallas clears. He’s still Columbus’ best defender, and he had another solid outing highlighted by his ability to keep MLS All-Star Kenny Cooper in check. (7)

RB Frankie Hejduk- Hejduk’s always a bit of an enigma on the wing, but he had a decent game. He came up with a few good tackles, but he also looked foolish on some ill-advised and inaccurate sliding attempts. Frankie may be starting to show his age a little, as he’s been increasingly less involved on offense, and less able to cover his defensive position after his runs forward. Other teams can usually exploit his tendency to want to play offensively, but Dallas went more towards the left side of the field. (6)

DM Brian Carroll- The Crew’s unsung hero put in yet another good performance. Mostly stayed invisible (always a good sign for a defensive midfielder), made stops when he had to, and also got a little more involved in the offense than usual, eventually notching his first goal of the season (and only the third of his career in 141 games) with a nice half-volley near the top of the box. (7)

M Pat Noonan- Noonan had a pretty inauspicious start to his Crew career. He’s admitted that he isn’t really game fit yet, and it definitely showed in his relative timidity off the ball, and a few 1-on-1 challenges where he clearly looked like someone that’s used to having a little more burst. Still, he showed flashes and looked very capable with the ball on his feet (probably better than Rogers and Ekpo and certainly better than Gaven). (6)

M Eddie Gaven- Gaven continues to struggle to make much of an impact on the Crew’s offense. He gets muscled off the ball pretty easily, doesn’t have much of a knack for through balls, and isn’t good enough on the ball to take defenders on 1-on-1. For as shaky as he looked on offense, Gaven’s defense is even worse. He rarely tracks back, and his tackle attempts usually look more like football tackles than soccer tackles. He had a mostly quiet game, but also botched a few good chances early on that would have given the Crew much needed early game momentum and didn’t really do anything to redeem himself. (5)

M Brad Evans- Evans, like always seemed to drift in and out of the game. However, less typical for him was the amount of offense that he produced for Columbus. Brad led the Crew in shots for the game and finished off a great Guillermo Barros Schelotto cross for his third goal of the season, which would also be the game-winner. Aside from his goal and a few errant shots, Evans did little that was worth mentioning, but he came through when it mattered. (7)

F Guillermo Barros Schelotto- Guillermo made more mistakes on the ball than I’m used to seeing from him, but more than made up for it setting up both of Columbus’ goals. His vision and passing ability is amazing, even if his 1-on-1 dribbling leaves a little to be desired. Barros Schelotto’s free kicks were a mixed bag today, but none ended up threatening Sala at all. He was also hit and miss from the corner flag, but created a few genuine chances from there. Because of his two assists, Guillermo has to be my Man of the Match. (8)

F Alejandro Moreno- The hard-working Moreno did what he does best: use nothing but grit, determination, and a whole lot of awkward running to get on the end of long balls. Moreno has a great sense of how the ball moves in the air and is very capable as a target man for someone who lacks the ideal size for the job. Although he failed to add to his team-leading 7 goals, Moreno got his 4th assist of the year on Carroll’s goal, and provided plenty of opportunities for the Crew’s offense. (7)

Sub M Robbie Rogers- Rogers was clearly jet-lagged and fatigued from his time in Beijing, but his presence still may have sparked Columbus’ comeback. Although he didn’t get on the ball much and did his usual half-hearted job of defending, Robbie still won a few corners and battled in the box. (6)

Subs D Jed Zayner and M Stefani Miglioranzi- As far as I’m concerned, if you’re a defensive sub and your team doesn’t concede any goals after you go on the field, you’ve done your job. (7)